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THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENCE

EVIDENCE


OTTAWA, Monday, April 8, 2019

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, to which was referred Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, met this day at 11 a.m. to give clause-by-clause consideration to the bill.

Senator Gwen Boniface (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Senators, today we will move to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-71. Before we begin, I would like to ask all senators to introduce themselves.

Senator McIntyre: Paul McIntyre, New Brunswick.

Senator Plett: Don Plett, Manitoba.

Senator Richards: Dave Richards, New Brunswick.

Senator Oh: Victor Oh, Ontario.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu from Quebec.

[English]

Senator Wells: David Wells, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Senator McPhedran: Marilou McPhedran, independent senator from Manitoba.

Senator Busson: Bev Busson, British Columbia.

Senator Gold: Marc Gold, Quebec.

[Translation]

Senator Pratte: André Pratte from Quebec.

[English]

Senator Kutcher: Stan Kutcher, Nova Scotia.

Senator Griffin: Diane Griffin, Prince Edward Island.

Senator Jaffer: Mobina Jaffer, British Columbia.

The Chair: I am your chair, Gwen Boniface.

Senators, we have officials with us today to answer any technical questions on the bill as we move through clause by clause. They are sitting with us at the table.

I would like to remind senators of a number of points. If at any point a senator is not clear where we are in the process, please feel free to ask for clarification.

In terms of the mechanics of the process, I wish to remind senators that when more than one amendment is proposed to be moved in a clause, amendments should be proposed in the order of the lines of a clause. Therefore, I will be verifying whether any senators had intended to move an amendment earlier in that clause. If senators do intend to move an earlier amendment, they will be given the opportunity to do so.

On one small point, if a senator is opposed to an entire clause, I would remind you that in committee the proper process is not to move a motion to delete the entire clause but rather to vote against the clause standing as part of the bill.

It would be useful to this process if a senator moving an amendment identified to the committee other clauses in this bill where this amendment could have an effect. Otherwise, it would be very difficult for members of the committee to remain consistent in their decision making.

If committee members ever have any questions about the process or about the propriety of anything occurring, they can certainly raise a point of order. As chair, I will listen to your argument, decide when there has been sufficient discussion of a matter of order and make a ruling.

The committee is the ultimate master of its business within the bounds established by the Senate, and a ruling can be appealed to the full committee for asking whether the ruling shall be sustained.

Finally, I wish to remind all honourable senators that if there is ever any uncertainty as to the results of a voice vote or a show of hands, the most effective route is to request a roll call vote, which obviously provides unambiguous results.

Senators are aware that any tied vote negates the motion in question.

Are there any questions on any of the above?

Senator Pratte: Yes. Is it possible, when amendments are distributed to the senators, that there also be copies for staff? Is that possible if the committee agrees?

The Chair: Does the committee agree?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Pratte: Thank you.

The Chair: We can now proceed.

Is it agreed that the committee proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall the title stand postponed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall clause 1 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Carried, on division.

Shall clause 2 carry?

We will move slowly through this, senators, so please be patient.

Senator Plett: Yes, I think this may take a little bit of doing here. I’ve an amendment here somewhere.

I move that clause 2, on page 2, be amended by replacing lines 4 —

Senator Jaffer: I am sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt you. Do you mind if we get the amendment, and then we could follow you?

Senator Plett: I have no problem with that. The clerk was doing that earlier, but we had changed some things at the last minute.

Senator Jaffer: I understand. Thank you.

The Chair: Perhaps we can distribute them, and then Senator Plett will walk us through the proposed amendment.

Senator Plett: You don’t need to give me any of mine because that gives me more paper. I think I have three of them already.

The Chair: Has everyone received it?

I understand that all senators have copies. Senator Plett, please go ahead.

Senator Plett: I move:

That Bill C-71 be amended in clause 2, on page 2,

“2(1) Subsection 5(2) of the Act is amended by strik-”; and

“(2) Section 5 of the Act is amended by adding the”.

If I could, I will explain some rationale because it is hard to follow, even for me.

Clause 2 is the eliminating provision for lifetime review by new licence applicants and licence renewal applications. Current legislation requires that the background of an individual applying for a new firearms licence, or renewing an existing firearms licence, be reviewed with particular regard to the previous five years of the individual’s life history. Subsection 5(1) of the Firearms Act already states:

A person is not eligible to hold a licence if it is desirable, in the interests of the safety of that or any other person, that the person not possess a firearm . . . .

To verify that background checks already consider a person’s criminal history beyond five years, plus mental health, addiction and domestic violence records, investigations can already go into a person’s history if there is no reason to do so.

We have to consider that we are gaining and mandating lifetime checks in legislation when it is likely that such checks may be randomly and inconsistently applied. Witness testimony on this bill has referenced the impact this provision could have on Canada’s more vulnerable communities.

When the House of Commons reviewed Bill C-71, Vice Chief Heather Bear of the Saskatchewan region of the Assembly of First Nations asked:

Obviously we need to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminals and people with serious mental illnesses, but why punish a person who made a mistake decades ago?

This amendment proposed three addresses that concern and help to ensure that mistakes a person made decades ago should not be held against that person decades later.

The amendment proposed here only addresses the lifetime review and would confirm the five-year criterion in the current law. It would leave intact all other provisions related to background checks proposed in the bill.

The Chair: Are you on debate, Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: No, it’s really a question.

Senator Plett, are you going to be introducing other amendments that would follow from this particular one, so that we have an overall idea of what you’re proposing in this area?

Senator Plett: I don’t think there are any that are affected by this amendment, no.

Senator Pratte: I disagree with this amendment for a couple of reasons. First, the bill and the Firearms Act make very clear that the background checks should look at mental health illnesses linked to threatening or violent behaviour.

Second, the five years limit cases where an incident of domestic violence would have been committed longer ago than five years but would still be relevant. It’s the same for suicidal attempts.

We have had testimony by Dr. Mishara, a prominent expert on suicide, who mentioned that suicidal attempts that have been committed many, many years ago are still a good predictor of possible future suicidal behaviour.

We should stick with the lifetime background checks, which in fact only codifies what the courts have already stated.

The Chair: I have two further interventions.

Senator Jaffer: I want a clarification, Senator Plett. It doesn’t affect any other clauses, right?

Senator Plett: It does not. Nor does it affect any other criteria.

Senator McPhedran: I want to ask us to give consideration to a basic incontrovertible reality. Human beings are in constant change. Situations change all the time, and the kind of person who qualifies at some point in their life for a licence to own a handgun legally can turn into a completely different person under circumstances that create various kinds of stress.

I want to give you a direct personal example from my own family. When my children were young, around eight or nine, and other children in our family were even younger, we had a family meeting where the father of the other children than mine was present. We talked to this father, a brother-in-law of mine, about his behaviour toward the children and his behaviour toward his then wife. He left the room, and he came back with his legally licensed shotgun.

That’s how he responded to the talking to him about how he was speaking to and treating members of the family. He then went on to threaten every family member, including his own children, with the gun.

That situation could not have been predicted at the time that my sister married this man. It is what happens to human beings. Situations change. We need to have lifelong protection. We need to know that we are being realistic about human beings and the licensing of guns.

The Chair: Any other senators?

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: Shall we do a roll call?

Senator Plett: I think we will probably need to do that a number of times.

The Chair: I think so.

Honourable senators, we will now be proceeding to a roll call. The clerk of the committee will call members’ names, beginning with the chair and then going in alphabetical order. Senators should verbally indicate whether they vote for, against or abstain.

The clerk will then announce the results of the vote. It is my duty as chair to declare whether the motion is carried or defeated.

Mark Palmer, Clerk of the Committee: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: Against.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: For.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: Against.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: Against.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: For.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McPhedran?

Senator McPhedran: Against.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: Against.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: Agreed.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 6; nays, 5; abstentions, 1.

The Chair: The motion carries.

The Chair: Shall clause 2, as amended, carry?

Senator Plett: Chair, I am going to ask for your advice on this matter.

I am going to be proposing that this clause not pass. Is it all right if I give my reasons for that, or what is the procedure?

I apologize, chair. I am ahead of myself.

The Chair: Shall clause 2, as amended, carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall clause 3 carry?

Senator Plett: Now I will ask. Chair, I am proposing that we defeat this clause, and I would like to give my rationale if that is all right.

The Chair: Go ahead.

Senator Plett: Thank you.

Rejecting this clause would reverse the proposal of Bill C-71 to arbitrarily prohibit two specific firearms, the Swiss Arms and CZ firearms.

The Swims Arms firearm had 12 years of use by Canadian shooters as a non-restricted firearm, but due to findings by the firearms centre in 2014 that they originally had been improperly classified, they were suddenly and with no notice reclassified as prohibited firearms.

Subsequently, all CZ 858s imported after 2007 were reclassified as well. That decision impacted on more than 10,000 firearms owners who purchased those firearms in good faith, believing they were non-restricted. As a result of the reclassification decision, these firearms were prohibited and their value was seriously and negatively impacted, without any compensation being paid.

Gerry Gamble of the Sporting Clubs of Niagara told this committee that the impact was between $1,500 and $4,000 for each firearm.

Fortunately, the previous government reversed this decision in 2015. These two firearms were again classified as non-restricted firearms, consistent with what had been the practice for a decade or more.

Colleagues, I am concerned that this provision in Bill C-71 to again prohibit these firearms is unfair and raises the prospect that, in future, firearms or even non-firearm devices can be reclassified at any time without a clear public safety rationale and with no separate oversight.

Grandfathering does not address this problem since the firearms have still had their monetary value eliminated. Therefore, I am proposing that this clause be defeated as having no public safety benefit.

Senator Pratte: There are a couple of reasons why these firearms have been deemed prohibited. First, after close examination of the firearms, the Canadian Firearms Program experts determined that both were converted fully automatic firearms. It’s clear, in the Criminal Code, that converted fully automatic firearms are to be prohibited.

As a matter of compensation versus grandfathering, I would note that grandfathering allows the owners to keep the guns and use them in approved shooting ranges, and that grandfathering is a process chosen by governments of both colours when prohibiting a series of firearms, including many handguns and fully automatic firearms.

In each case, grandfathering was the way chosen by the government.

The Chair: Senators, shall clause 3 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Chair: Shall we do a roll call?

Just to clarify, the question is: Shall clause 3 carry?

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McPhedran?

Senator McPhedran: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: No.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 6; nays, 3; abstentions, 3.

The Chair: The clause carries.

Shall clause 4 carry?

Senator Griffin: I have an amendment. This is clause 4, on page 7.

The Chair: May we have the number written on the top of the page?

Senator Griffin: GR1.

The Chair: Senator Griffin, perhaps we could take a moment to distribute it.

Senator Griffin: This is new wording for clause 4, page 7. I move:

That Bill C-71 be amended in clause 4, on page 7, by adding the following after line 31:

“(2.4) An individual who holds a licence authorizing the individual to possess restricted firearms or handguns referred to in subsection 12(6.1) must, if the licence is renewed, be authorized to transport them within the individual’s province of residence to and from a business that holds a licence authorizing it to repair or appraise prohibited firearms or restricted firearms.”.

You will notice that I am asking only for restricted firearms that are not to be ATT required. It would still be required for prohibited firearms.

What I am trying to ensure with this amendment is that a firearms owner can bring a restricted firearm to a gunsmith without delay. You may recall that I asked Minister Goodale this question. While he wasn’t supportive of it, part of his comment was that it would certainly seem desirable to have a firearm in good and safe working order. That’s what I am trying to achieve here.

Some witnesses, as you will also recall, were concerned about trying to get an ATT on weekends or holidays. It’s very important that firearms be safe to operate. Therefore, taking it to the gunsmith is highly desirable. Licensed gunsmiths are also known to law enforcement. We’re allowing the individual to take his or her firearm to any range within their province, but yet the current proposed act does not allow them to take it to a gunsmith without an authority to transport.

Basically that’s it. I see this as being very minor in terms of the number of people it will affect, but in terms of safety it is very important.

Senator Pratte: I understand the concerns and the reason for this amendment. However, I will oppose it for the following reason: The changes that are brought forward by the bill to the automatic ATTs have, as their purpose, to help police officers challenge someone who is suspected of driving with a firearm for illegal purposes.

Automatic ATTs make that very difficult because you can always find some location, whether a gun show or a store or a border station, that is somewhere in your route. Therefore, it makes it impossible for an officer to determine whether or not the firearm is transported for legitimate purposes.

I would highlight the fact there is no specific licence for gunsmiths. Therefore, what is addressed here is all the businesses that have a licence to sell firearms, and that’s 4,500 businesses. That’s not a minor amendment, in my view.

Senator Griffin: May I make a clarification?

The Chair: Yes, you may.

Senator Griffin: The amendment is just for going to the gunsmith. It’s not for shows or anything else.

Senator Pratte: I understand.

Senator Griffin: Thank you.

Senator McPhedran: If we go back to the evidence that was given to us from the police chiefs, they were very clear that the equivalent of Senator Griffin’s amendment or what Senator Griffin wants to do, given that there are more than 4,000 gunsmiths in this country, would in effect allow people to keep their guns in their cars all the time.

I don’t know if that’s your intention, Senator Griffin, but it is certainly reason to oppose your amendment.

Senator Plett: When the RCMP testified here, they were anything but clear. They moved around with some of their testimony when they were questioned. Specifically, when Senator Griffin questioned Chief Palmer on the ATTs, he was anything but clear at the very end.

Colleagues, I will be supporting the amendment; but if the amendment passes, I will still ask that we defeat the clause because there are a whole lot of reasons that this clause should be defeated, and I will speak to those when we get to that point.

If we want to talk about Senator Griffin’s amendment, we had testimony from gun experts who used the scenario: I am at a shooting range and I have ammunition that is jammed in the chamber of a gun.

We are asking people to carry that gun around for a weekend, or whatever length of time, in the car, wherever. It’s impossible to lock the trigger lock. They’re breaking the law by not locking the trigger lock because there are problems with the gun. They are illegally transporting a gun.

There is a whole lot of reasons why the rest of this clause should be defeated, and I will speak to those. I will, for that reason, support the amendment because it is one of the four criteria Senator Griffin is proposing we change. Certainly that is a start. When we get on a little bit, I’ll give my reasons for voting against the entire clause.

Senator Pratte: I’d like to make a small point here. A couple of times it was mentioned that it would be problematic to get an ATT, especially on weekends.

In their testimony, both the minister and the officials have made clear that ATTs would be available on weekends through a website. The standards of services would be raised so that ATTs and other permits and licences would be available on weekends.

Senator Plett: I know this isn’t a rebuttal chamber, but if it is that easy to go and get it on the Internet, that gives us more reason why this is a completely useless amendment or a completely useless clause.

Senator McPhedran: It’s not, Senator Plett —

Senator Plett: Through the chair.

Senator McPhedran: Through the chair, I understand —

Senator Plett: Let me correct something here, chair.

Senator McPhedran: I don’t need to be corrected.

Senator Plett: We are speaking to the chair, not to each other.

The Chair: Do you stand corrected?

Senator McPhedran: I already corrected myself. I don’t need that.

Senator Plett, through the chair, this amendment is about possession of a gun pretty much all the time. Your analogy is just not realistic.

Senator Jaffer: Chair, may I ask if the officials can clarify how accessible it will be to get permission?

Robert Mackinnon, Director, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: As has been pointed out, there would be an online portal available 24/7 to get authorization to transport for the purposes of taking it to a gunsmith for repair.

In addition, the Canadian Firearms Program continually looks at their services provided through the call centre to determine if that is a vehicle that has to be expanded upon from the current hours of operation that exist today.

Senator Plett: I would also have a question for the officials, chair, if I could.

If we are that clear here today, why isn’t it part of the bill? Why don’t you explain in the bill what your intent is? You’re telling us here today what the intent of the bill is, and nowhere do I read that.

We are supposed to take somebody’s word for it that this will happen, and it may happen five years down the road, four years after the bill is law.

Mr. Mackinnon: As part of the implementation strategy for Bill C-71, it is the intent to have the online portal.

Senator Plett: Thank you.

Senator Busson: I am not a voting member of this committee, but I attended a number of the committee meetings.

In furtherance to some of the comments already made, the chiefs of police who testified before us also pointed out the rising and increasing situations they run into with straw traffickers who use this gap in the ATTs with regard to transportation to and from any anonymous gun repair, et cetera, as a way of avoiding detection as they’re transporting weapons from one place to another to traffic.

That’s my comment.

The Chair: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McPhedran?

Senator McPhedran: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Busson: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 7; nays, 5.

The Chair: The motion in amendment carries.

Shall clause 4, as amended, carry?

Senator Plett: After voting in favour of the amendment, I am going to ask that we defeat the clause in its entirety. I will give my reasons.

First, as I explained earlier, I think you always vote for something that will make it a little better if you can’t get everything you want.

Having said that, the government is removing the automatic authorizations to transport a restricted firearm to a gun show, a border crossing, a police station or a gunsmith. After stopping a vehicle; after confirming that the driver has a valid unexpired gun licence and has the licence on their person; after confirming that the firearm is properly locked, unloaded and in a locked case; and after confirming that the driver is travelling to an authorized destination by a reasonably direct route, this amendment suggests that there could be a situation where the police officer is still uncertain whether the firearm is being transported for legitimate purposes.

However, if the licensed gun owner had a non-automatic ATT that was issued that day, then all uncertainty would be gone. That’s what we’re being told here.

On ATTs and border crossings, under Bill C-71 transporting a restricted or prohibited firearm to a border crossing will no longer be automatic; but if you wanted to transport a firearm across the border into the U.S. today, you need the following: a valid firearms licence, proof of Canadian registration for each firearm, a permit for the temporary importation of firearms and ammunition from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and either a valid U.S. hunting licence or a written invitation to a U.S. shooting range.

Bill C-71 proposes to remove certain destination locations from existing legislation that allows restricted and prohibited licence holders to transport their firearms to those specific locations as a condition of their licence. No credible justification has been provided for this proposal which would compel already licensed firearm owners to call the firearms centre each and every time they propose to transport their firearm to any location other than a gun range.

Since there is no reason to believe that a licensed firearms owner would be denied such an authorization when requested, I believe this provision is simply an unwarranted, bureaucratic restriction that has no public safety value. While the restriction has no public safety value, it will make things more difficult for gun owners, such as those engaged in a competitive shoot on a weekend who may need to take that firearm to a gunsmith, if required.

Witness Ross Faulkner told the committee that this requirement could even pose a public safety risk for an individual who may, as I said earlier, have a live round jammed in a chamber that needs to be removed.

This provision in Bill C-71 will require the firearms centre to allocate more resources simply to support applications that are entirely routine.

Because this provision has no public safety benefit, I propose that this clause be rejected in its entirety.

Senator Pratte: Senator Plett just said that clause 4 has no public safety benefit. On this issue, I take the word of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police that has clearly indicated that the system currently in place leaves a lot of room for abuse. They were against the automatic ATTs when they were introduced in 2015, and they still believe this should be corrected. They said so very clearly.

The way the system is now renders it extremely difficult for police officers to challenge a driver who they suspect of carrying a gun in their car for illegitimate purposes. Therefore, I will vote in favour of clause 4.

The Chair: Shall clause 4, as amended, carry?

Senator Plett: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: I’ sorry, but I am confused. Would you just clarify the vote, please? Are we voting on the amendment proposed?

The Chair: We’re voting on the clause, as amended.

Senator Gold: I vote against. Could you please explain? Forgive me.

Senator Plett: We want the clause passed, Marc.

Senator Gold: I am speaking to the chair, actually, Don, as you’ve instructed me.

The Chair: As you recall, there was an amendment proposed by Senator Griffin to clause 4. That amendment passed, so the question is: Shall clause 4, as amended, pass?

Senator Gold: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McPhedran?

Senator McPhedran: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Busson: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: No.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 5; nays, 7.

The Chair: The clause is defeated.

Shall clause 5 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: On division.

Shall clause 6 carry?

Senator Plett: I think this is a continuation of clause 4, and in light of clause 4 being defeated, I think this needs to be defeated.

Senator Pratte: Chair, could we have an explanation from the officials on this point?

The Chair: Would one of our officials like to answer?

We’ll just take a few moments so people can review.

Senator Plett: Chair, if I could, just while they are looking, we did clarify this. I am certainly not wanting to pre-empt what the officials are doing, but we clarified with the law clerk. The law clerk told us if clause 4 is defeated, then clause 6, clause 8 and clause 15 need to be defeated as well.

That is information we have from the law clerk, if that helps the officials at all.

Senator Pratte: I am just wondering if Senator Plett could repeat the sections need to be defeated.

Senator Plett: That need defeating?

Senator Pratte: Yes.

Senator Plett: Certainly. Clause 6, clause 8 and clause 15.

Senator Pratte: Thank you.

The Chair: Mr. Koops, I understand you might be ready to give us some advice.

Randall Koops, Director General, Public Safety Canada: Thank you, Madam Chair. On the basis of what we see, clause 6, as the senator has pointed out, makes a technical amendment to give effect to clause 5. If clause 5 is defeated, clause 6 is not necessary.

Perhaps, if the committee bears with us, we could continue looking at clause 8 and clause 15 in the interim. I am sorry, clause 4.

Senator Plett: Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Koops: I am sorry.

The Chair: I will deal with clause 6 while you look at the rest.

Shall clause 6 carry?

Senator Plett: No, that’s the one they’re looking for, chair.

The Chair: I thought you had given us the answer on clause 6.

Senator Plett: Oh, I am sorry. I apologize.

The Chair: Mr. Koops, could you repeat your comments so that everybody is clear?

Mr. Koops: Sure. We think that clause 6 makes a technical amendment necessary to implement a clause that has been defeated. Therefore clause 6, as it stands, would not be necessary.

The Chair: Shall clause 6 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: Thank you.

The Chair: Shall clause 7 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Senator Plett: On division, chair.

The Chair: On division, clause 7.

We’re coming to clause 8. Senators, we’ll give the officials time to take a look at this.

Senator Plett: Absolutely.

The Chair: I understand the officials may have an answer for us.

Mr. Koops: Thank you for bearing with us, Madam Chair. We have conferred with colleagues, and I think it does in fact appear to us that clauses 6, 8 and 15 are all tied to the implementation of clause 4. Clause 4, having been defeated, clauses 6, 8, and 15 would not be necessary.

In fact, if we go all the way to the end of the bill, the coming into force provisions at subclause 22(3) provides that those are all brought into force together as a single package.

The Chair: Shall clause 8 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: Shall clause 9 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 10 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 11 carry?

Senator Plett: I have an amendment on it. I would like to amend clause 11, on page 10.

The Chair: Senator Plett, can we just wait while we hand it out?

Senator Plett: Absolutely.

The Chair: Senators, you will note, if I understand correctly, that this is new clause 11.1 that has been distributed. We would actually deal with clause 11 first.

Shall clause 11 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Senator Plett.

Senator Plett: As the clerk rightly pointed out to me, I am adding something. I would move:

That Bill C-71 be amended on page 10 by adding the following after line 21:

“11.1 The Act is amended by adding the following in section 94:

94.1 (1) The Commissioner shall provide to the Minister, no later than February 1 of each year, a written report for the immediately preceding calendar year that sets out the decisions and recommendations made by the Commissioner regarding whether a firearm is a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm, or a non-restricted firearm, the reasons for those decisions or recommendations, and the actual or anticipated costs to firearms owners and businesses of those decisions and recommendations.

(2) The federal Minister shall cause each report received under subsection (1) to be tabled before each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after the federal Minister receives it.”.

The rationale is that the proposed amendment calls on the minister to table an annual report in Parliament on the impact of classification decisions on both individual firearms owners and businesses.

We have heard testimony from several witnesses as to the impact that sudden classification decisions have had on their businesses. Robert Henderson of Access Heritage testified that his imports of non-firing antique flintlock firearms were stopped after 18 years of having no issues because of a ruling by the firearms centre that they were suddenly deemed not firing enough, not firing enough.

Alison de Groot, director of Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, told the committee that sudden classification changes can have hundreds of thousands of dollars of impacts on businesses. I believe it is legitimate for parliamentarians to know what decisions have been taken in a calendar year and what impact has been on individuals and businesses.

This proposed amendment is clearly designed to have that transparency.

Senator Gold: Chair, I have a question both for Senator Plett, through you, and to the officials. I notice in subsection 93(1) of the current bill that the report to the federal minister, which is the more general report, reads as follows:

The Commissioner shall, as soon as possible after the end of each calendar year, . . . .

I am wondering, Senator Plett, why you didn’t follow that formulation and rather gave a hard date. As a subquestion, you were wanting the report to speak, and I understand the rationale for the actual or anticipated costs, but I am wondering whether that’s enough time for that kind of analysis to have been done and put into the form of a report over the month of January, effectively, to make the February 1 deadline.

Is there something about the February 1 deadline, as opposed to the other formulation, and is it realistic, officials, in light of the information contemplated in your amendment?

Senator Plett: Thank you for the question. On many issues, colleagues, I have been opposed to the term “as soon as possible” or “in the near future” or in anything other than a specified date, because what the commissioner or minister may think is as soon as possible may be entirely different from what the rest of the country believes is as soon as possible. By putting a date in, we are compelling the minister to do this in the first whatever period of time.

I guess that would be my main rationale for having a date in there. I don’t trust, where it is this government or any other government, to necessarily follow through with something as soon as possible.

Senator Gold: Chair, if I might ask the question through you, if the report would have to include actual or anticipated costs to firearm owners and businesses of the decisions and recommendations, is it realistic to think that the commissioner could complete this report to the minister within the month of January, following the end of the calendar year?

Mr. Koops: Madam Chair, it’s difficult for us to offer a view, not having had the chance to think through what that would look like.

Senator Pratte: I’d like to ask a couple of questions of the officials about this amendment.

First, is there any objection to the publication of a report on the decisions and recommendations made by the Canadian Firearms Program? Is there any difficulty, things that should be made or shouldn’t be made public for one reason or another as far as classification of firearms is concerned?

Mr. Mackinnon: The Canadian Firearms Program is taking steps to make the firearms reference table public, which is where the decisions are based on or the decisions are published in the report after the analysis takes place.

Senator Pratte: You are saying that what this amendment would actually do will be done in any event.

Mr. Mackinnon: Correct.

Senator Pratte: Second, is there any problem or difficulty with estimating the actual or anticipated costs to firearm owners of decisions and recommendations by the Canadian Firearms Program?

Mr. Mackinnon: No, unless the firearms are restricted and we know how many are in existence. Then there is the feasibility to do an assessment but the impact cannot be established, no.

Senator Pratte: The impact cannot be established.

Mr. Mackinnon: Correct.

Senator Pratte: Is that because we don’t know how many firearms of this or that model are in circulation?

Mr. Mackinnon: If there is a change in a classification from a non-restricted firearm to something other than non-restricted, we don’t have that information on who owns the non-restricted firearm.

Senator Pratte: Chair, if I may and since I have been asking questions, I would move a subamendment to this amendment. Is that possible? Is this the right time?

The Chair: Yes.

Senator Pratte: I would move a subamendment to remove the words:

. . . and the actual or anticipated costs to firearms owners and businesses of those decisions and recommendations.

The Chair: Senator Pratte, could you it make a little clearer where you’re at?

Senator Pratte: Yes. I am in the amendment at 94.1(1). At the end of this paragraph, after the words:

. . . and the actual or anticipated costs to firearms owners and businesses of those decisions and recommendations.

I would delete that. The reason I propose this, first, is that it would be very difficult to estimate, as the official has just mentioned. Second, grandfathering makes it even more difficult to estimate because people can continue to own their firearm. Third, I believe this would open the door or create some hopes that people would be compensated for these decisions.

Compensation is not a model that has been adopted by the federal government when they prohibit a firearm or restrict a firearm. Grandfathering is the model we’ve decided to use.

Senator Plett: This doesn’t entirely gut the amendment, but almost. Very clearly, a large part of this amendment is exactly in regard to costs. The amendment is the anticipated costs. It is not the actual costs. It is the anticipated costs.

We have heard over and over and over again in this committee and in other committees from witnesses that are citing numbers of how many deaths by suicide this might save — I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth — and how much of an impact this will have. Those are all anticipated; those are not all definitive. These are anticipated costs, and I have a pretty good idea that the people who need to know will know the anticipated costs of what this is.

In my opinion, that takes away from this. I know, Senator Pratte, you didn’t object to the timelines I have in there. I appreciate that, but I guess further to what Senator Gold mentioned about rushing something, there are some fairly definitive dates in here. That’s not rushing. People know well ahead of time what they’re going to have to present.

I would be opposed to the subamendment for that reason. I believe that costs can be anticipated, and those anticipated costs can be published.

Senator Gold: I would support the subamendment, but I think the February 1 date makes it very unrealistic, in terms of what we just heard, to get anything that’s reliable on the issue of actual or anticipated costs.

I am struggling with all of this, but I think, if we’re going to keep the February 1 date, I would support the subamendment.

Senator Pratte: I would respectfully disagree with Senator Plett on the fact that the subamendment would gut the amendment. Actually I find it is a very important amendment. Many, many witnesses have told us that they find the process by which the Canadian Firearms Program classifies or reclassifies firearms is not transparent enough. I think the minister even said publicly that he believed the process should be more transparent.

Even without these words or with the subamendment adopted, the amendment would remain very relevant and important.

The Chair: Anyone else?

We will then move to deal with the subamendment first. Shall the subamendment carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: Roll call.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McPhedran?

Senator McPhedran: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: Yes — no. You almost had me.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: No.

Senator McPhedran: Madam Chair, may I change my vote to yes while we’re still in the process?

The Chair: I think we permitted it once. We’ll permit it.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 5; nays, 6; abstentions, 1.

The Chair: The subamendment is defeated.

We’ll move back to new clause 11.1. Shall the motion carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: For clarity, shall the new clause 11.1 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: Roll call.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McPhedran?

Senator McPhedran: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 7; nays, 5.

The Chair: It carries.

Shall clause 12 carry?

Senator Plett: Chair, I have an amendment on clause 13, which I am being told affects clause 12. I am not sure, and I am going to need direction from you and the officials as to how we deal with something like this.

If my amendment would carry, chair, then we would vote in favour of clause 12. I guess, if my amendment would not carry, then we would not vote in favour of clause 12.

The Chair: Senator Plett, may I suggest that we stand clause 12 and move to clause 13?

Senator Plett: Absolutely. That would be fine.

The Chair: Is that agreeable, senators?

Senator Plett: That would be agreeable.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall clause 13 carry?

Senator Plett: I have an amendment, chair.

I would move that —

The Chair: I apologize for interrupting. Could I give the number at the top of the page so that we know which one we are distributing?

Senator Plett: It is PL10.

The Chair: Senator Plett, this is a bit long, so I am going to give people a little more time before you speak to it.

Senator Plett: I move:

That Bill C-17 be amended in clause 13,

(m) “regulating, except in respect of a business, the keeping, transmission and destruc-”; and

“(3) Paragraph 117(n) of the Act is repealed.

(o) creating offences consisting of contraventions of the regulations made under paragraph (d), (e), (f), (g), (i), (j), (k.1), (k.2), (l) or (m);

(w) prescribing anything that, by any provision of this Act except section 58.1, is to be prescribed by regulation.

13.1 The Act is amended to be adding the following after section 117:

117.1 (1) The Governor in Council, on recommendation of the federal Minister after consultation with firearms-related businesses, may make regulations

(a) regulating, in respect of a business, the keeping and destruction of records in relation to firearms, prohibited weapons, restricted weapons, prohibited devices and prohibited ammunition;

(b) regulating the keeping and destruction of records by businesses in relation to ammunition;

(c) regulating the transmission of records under paragraphs 58.1(1)(c) by a business to a prescribed official;

(d) prescribing anything under section 58.1 that is to be prescribed by regulation; and

(e) creating offences consisting of contraventions of the regulations made under paragraphs (a) to (d).

(2) the federal Minister shall, no later than February 1 of each year,

(a) prepare a report that sets out the consultations referred to in paragraph (1) that occurred during the immediately preceding calendar year; and

(b) cause that report to be tabled before each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House sits after the report is completed.”.

Very briefly, this amendment requires a federal minister to consult with firearms-related businesses prior to making regulations. Since Bill C-71 is imposing new requirements on businesses related to the sale of firearms and is requiring them to keep their records for up to 20 years, if any new regulations are made relating to the keeping and storage of those records, businesses should be consulted.

We have heard testimony that businesses are already investing tens of thousands of dollars in computer software. I believe it’s legitimate for the government to consult with them before any new regulations are enacted. This amendment is designed to ensure that this happens.

Senator Pratte: I would like to have the officials’ opinion. As described by Senator Plett, it is very simple, but when we read it, it looks more complicated.

Mr. Koops: May we take a few minutes? We’ve just seen the text.

The Chair: Yes, please do. I was going to suggest we could suspend to give them 10 minutes to look at it.

Senator Gold: I have a question that I would like to fold into this when they are looking at it.

The Chair: Perhaps Senator Gold could put his question on the floor, and if anyone else has a question. Then we’ll suspend for 10 minutes to give the officials time to review.

Senator Gold: In addition to the general advice you will give us on interpretation, could you also explain the significance of proposed (5)(w) which says:

. . . prescribing anything that, by any provision of this Act except section 58.1.

Section 58.1 is the issuance of licences to business. I just wanted to know how that fits into the overall scheme.

The Chair: Senators, if we’re agreeable, we will suspend for 10 minutes. Pardon me.

Senator McPhedran: I also had a question for the officials, if they wouldn’t mind clarifying the following for us, please. In the way this amendment is constructed, in reference to section 117, is this in effect a reversion to the existing practice?

The Chair: Given they have three questions to answer, let’s suspend for 15 minutes.

We will resume. Mr. Koops, I think you have a few questions to answer.

Mr. Koops: Thanks for the time, Madam Chair. We would observe that if the committee needs detailed legal advice on the implications, the law clerk might be well placed to give that. As a practical response to what we see here now, we would suggest that it does not revert to an existing scheme. It would establish a new regime, which would require a much broader base for consultation with industry before the Governor-in-Council may make regulations. That new requirement would appear to be for a broader set of records than had been foreseen in relation to record keeping as proposed in Bill C-71.

It’s also not clear what would constitute the required consultations, given that regulations of this sort made under the Firearms Act are subject to prepublication in the Canada Gazette and are tabled before both houses of Parliament for a period of 30 sitting days for their examination before they can be made. Those would be some practical considerations that we would observe on seeing this.

Senator Pratte: My understanding of this is that in fact it doesn’t really add consultation. It reduces or decreases the number of the people that the government would consult. When they prepublish regulations, obviously they get input from business and other people that may be interested. This sort of limits consultation only to firearms-related businesses. Of course, they’re concerned and they should be consulted, but many others like the police, the Privy Commissioner and gun control organizations and so on would obviously need to be consulted on such a thing because these records are very useful in the tracing of firearms.

I would vote against this amendment for these reasons. First, as the official mentioned, there’s already consultation through the process of gazetting and, second, I don’t understand why we would limit consultations to firearms-related businesses.

Senator Plett: Senator Pratte may be right. Maybe there are not enough people listed here, and maybe he has a subamendment listing more people.

Colleagues, we are in an absolute crisis in Western Canada because, according to the courts, not enough consultation was done on pipelines. I haven’t read what consultation was supposed to be done, but they made a general observation that not enough consultation was done. Whom all should they consult with, I am not sure. We listed some of the people that are absolutely impacted bin this legislation, and very seriously impacted by this legislation.

It is my opinion that somebody has a potential of losing his or her business because of certain legislation coming in. It is not one individual but a group or an organization. We heard that business owners were going to lose their businesses. They’re going to have to pay many thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of this bill, rightfully or wrongfully.

From a government and somebody who is supporting this government’s legislation, I find it strange that we don’t want to err on the side of having more consultation rather than less. Of course the government can look at this bill, and maybe they can revamp it. Maybe they agree with the officials. I am certainly not going to be debating the officials here today.

I don’t see the downside of erring on the side of caution by implementing this bill. If that isn’t the case, maybe we all want to vote in favour of deleting that clause and letting the government come back with a new clause. Short of that, I will stand on that I think this is an important amendment. I would encourage colleagues to vote in favour of an amendment that will require consultation of people in your own backyards.

Senator Pratte: I would only add that we have testimony. This deals with record keeping by businesses and by retailers of their firearms transactions. We’ve had witnesses in front of us from business who told us that this particular requirement of Bill C-71 won’t change anything because they’re already keeping these records. It won’t change anything for them.

It’s not a matter of businesses failing because of this very simple requirement, so I don’t see any need for a process that is different from what is already the case for most regulations, which is going through the Canada Gazette.

Senator Plett: Consultation should be easy, then.

The Chair: Any other senators?

Senator Plett: Question.

The Chair: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Senator Plett: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McPhedran?

Senator McPhedran: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 5; nays, 5; abstentions, 2.

The Chair: The motion is defeated.

Shall clause 13 carry?

Senator Plett: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Chair: Roll call.

Just give the clerk a minute to catch up.

Senator Plett: Since I was the only vocal one who said “No”, if the group agrees, we will agree to carry it on division.

The Chair: Is that agreeable?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Plett. Carried on division.

We will go back to clause 12. Shall clause 12 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall clause 14 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 15 carry?

Senator Plett: That is one, chair, that I think we dealt with earlier.

The Chair: Pardon me. Shall clause 16 carry?

Senator Plett: Clause 15 has been defeated.

The Chair: Yes. Shall clause 16 carry?

Senator Plett: I have a few comments, chair. We are opposed, or I am opposed to that clause and some of the rationale. It applies, chair and colleagues, to clauses 16, 18, 19, 20 and 21. It is repealing provisions which deny the ability of the Governor-in-Council to classify firearms as non-restricted and to provide effective oversight of decisions made by the firearms centre.

Under current law, the Governor-in-Council may make regulations to prescribe firearms within the purview of the Firearms Act. Bill C-71 retains that for the purpose of making a firearm more restrictive, but it eliminates the option of making it less restrictive. It will do it one way, but it can’t do it the other way. This provision effectively means that there is no appeal from arbitrary classification decisions that are judged not to have a positive public safety benefit.

We know from witnesses’ testimony that there have often been questionable decisions related to firearms classification. The firearms centre is not perfect. It is very rare that any government reverses a more restrictive classification decision that may have been taken by the firearms centre. However, it did happen in 2015.

I believe the option must be there so that officials know someone is looking over their shoulder. We accept political oversight as a fundamental principle of democratic governance in nearly every other area of public policy, and the Firearms Act should be no exception. I therefore propose that these clauses should be repealed and that the status quo with respect to political oversight should be preserved.

Senator McPhedran: I’d like to propose an amendment, Madam Chair, to clause 16. It has been circulated in advance. If I may, I’d like to speak to it briefly.

The Chair: Senator McPhedran, could I ask you to read it into the record?

Senator McPhedran: I’d be happy to. I move:

That Bill C-71 be amended in clause 16, on page 11,

“16(1) the definition non-restricted firearm in subsec-”; and

“(2) Paragraph (a) of the definition prohibited firearm in subsection 84(1) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(a) a handgun, other than a handgun that is prescribed for use in international sporting competitions governed by the rules of the International Shooting Union.”

I would like to note, as a point of information, that this is consistent with the reference to International Shooting Union sporting competitions that is used throughout the code. Another term, but it’s covered adequately, is the International Shooting Sport Federation. It’s captured already in the code.

I wonder if I might speak briefly to the amendment.

The Chair: Yes, please.

Senator McPhedran: Thank you. Despite an overall decrease in homicides over the past several decades, there has been a major shift in Canada to less criminal use of long guns and, in the last 10 years, a rapid increase in the criminal use of handguns. However, many of those handguns are domestically sourced.

Bill C-71 does not address the issue of handguns in any major way. As we know from the testimony of Minister Blair, this is largely due to the fact that he is in the midst of completing a report on this very issue. He assured us that we would receive that report very soon.

I am proposing this amendment as a way of keeping open the opportunity for the government to actually do something about handguns because this amendment can still be considered in time, if it’s made, to create the space once we receive the report from Minister Blair. It will then create the space for the House of Commons to be able to respond to the Senate creating this opportunity to actually do something about handguns.

If they choose not to, that’s fine, they retain that authority; but this opens this up because the simple truth about the legislative agenda is that this government does not have time to start and finish any law about handguns. Either it gets dealt with here and we create this opportunity, or it’s not going to be dealt with. The reclassifying of handguns as prohibited firearms would prevent diversion from legitimate domestic sources by removing those sources altogether, except for recognized competitive shooting.

The current government promised to address the issue of handguns, but unfortunately that substantive action is awaiting the report from Minister Blair. This amendment creates an opportunity for action.

Just consider for a moment a quote from Ben Abdallah, president and co-founder of the Islamic cultural centre of Quebec City. He said:

We have a moral responsibility to introduce all technical, administrative and legal measures to prevent these weapons from circulating in our society. We will do so with laws. We have a moral responsibility to future generations.

Minister Blair himself said:

Before we make a decision on such an important issue of public policy and public safety, it’s important that we make ourselves as well informed as possible about how we would achieve that.

That report is imminent. We have done exactly this in our study already of Bill C-71. We have heard how the bill does not go far enough to address the risks faced by women and children who live in a home with a firearm present, including a legally licensed firearm.

Bill C-71 does not go far enough in working to address that, outside of the United States, Canada has the highest rate of homicides per 100,000 people. We have an opportunity to take action today to create the legislative space for the government to deal with handguns in an effective way that will curtail the fastest growing source of crime handguns, which is a diversion from legitimate domestic sources.

As to the question of scope, I have two primary points to make. This amendment is within scope. Bill C-71 proposes to make changes to certain regulations pertaining to the firearms regulatory regime in Canada in the interest of public and community safety. Reclassifying handguns as prohibited firearms is a means to that end. Bill C-71 even already reclassifies certain weapons as prohibited, given the danger they pose to society, including CZ rifles and SAN Swiss Arms.

Though this handgun reclassification is in effect in a separate way, the purpose of the amendment is very much in keeping with the spirit of the bill. As well, the relevant section of the Criminal Code is already being opened by Bill C-71. Clause 16 amends the definition of non-restricted firearms within subsection 84(1) of the Criminal Code. What would be the amended clause 16(2) makes a similar change to subsection 18(1), merely affecting the definition of prohibited firearms rather than non-restricted firearms. Thank you.

Senator Plett: I have a couple of points. I do not agree with Senator McPhedran that this is in fact within the scope. I believe it’s not. She is pre-empting a government’s report to a handgun ban, which means that she’s overriding the entire public consultation with this amendment, in my humble opinion.

Minister Blair has been quite clear in his intentions with the report, possibly legislation. Senator McPhedran is quite correct in that it’s not going to happen in this Parliament, but as much as I am going to do my level best to make sure there’s a different government after the next election, there is no guarantee of that. In fact, if this government would get re-elected, I think they’ve been quite clear on what their plan is. They will, I am sure, come out with some legislation on handguns. I don’t support any complete ban on handguns, but Minister Blair has been clear.

Number one, this is out of the scope of this bill, in my humble opinion. The body that Senator McPhedran is exempting, the International Shooting Sports Federation, governs Olympic shooting. Why is this type of competitive shooting at the highest level arbitrarily selected for an exemption over other shooting disciplines? There are those that say other shooting disciplines are very important. It is arbitrary to say that Olympic shooting is okay, but all the preparatory shooting disciplines that may lead to Olympic competition are banned or prohibited. Who’s going to become an Olympic shooter if they don’t shoot at an earlier point in their life? Arguably, you need a broader shooting sports culture to develop an Olympic shooting level.

Lawful handgun owners are not the source of the problem in our urban centres where most handgun crimes occur. Those are almost always exclusively smuggled firearms brought in from the United States. There is nothing in Bill C-71 or, quite frankly, in Senator McPhedran’s amendment to address that. Handguns are among the least powerful firearms. Why single out handguns, which are the most tightly regulated already, but have no measure to prohibit hunting rifles which are far more powerful? How will one million lawful handgun owners be compensated for this proposed arbitrary reclassification? Such a sweeping reclassification would be completely unjustified for firearms that have been purchased according to the law and in good faith.

Colleagues, to present an amendment like this one, out of scope, to decide literally to create something as encompassing as this in a meeting of one hour or a few hours is simply not justified and not our job. We have a minister who tells us he’s dealing with it. I don’t like the fact that he’s dealing with it, but I accept the fact that he’s in government. He got elected to represent and he got appointed to be the minister. He has his right to do what he’s doing, and I accept that, but we are stepping on territory that is not our business to step on. I’ll leave it at that.

Senator McPhedran: I have a quick question, if I may, for Senator Plett. In his conclusion that this amendment would be out of scope, may I ask if it’s based on a legal opinion or just his own personal, humble opinion?

Senator Plett: Well, let me repeat what I said. If we go to the transcript I said, “in my humble opinion.” I think I said that at the start.

Senator McPhedran: It may be a helpful clarification that my amendment is based on consultation, legal consultation.

Senator Pratte: I am very sympathetic to this idea. I think the bill, as I said a number of times, doesn’t go far enough. It’s obvious that we have a gun problem in Canada, but we also have a handgun problem in Canada. We have to deal with it. However, I think this amendment is premature because there is a consultation process that is nearly completed now.

If I am well informed, Minister Blair has met at least 90 different stakeholders on the specific issue of banning handguns and possibly what are called assault weapons. There remains the question of what happens to the owners of these firearms. Usually when firearms are prohibited they are grandfathered. That is not indicated here.

While I appreciate the intention and I am very sympathetic to it, I’ll probably abstain on my vote because I think some issues have not been dealt with.

Senator Gold: I agree with both Senator Pratte and SenatorMcPhedran in terms of the extent of the problem. It is a real problem. It is especially for people living in households with guns when people’s worst instincts can sometimes take over in times of stress. I think it is in scope, and I think we heard a lot of evidence, at least in some urban centres, that an increasing number of handguns used in crime are domestically sourced.

In that sense I respectfully disagree with Senator Plett. Even though time is running out in this Parliament, I think it’s appropriate to allow the consultation to be completed because it’s a complicated issue. For that reason, I think I’ll abstain on this one as well.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: I basically share the member’s objective. However, when the minister came to testify, he failed to convince me that he was serious about putting an end to weapons smuggling and resolving the street gang issue. I think that, if this amendment were adopted today, it would be an easy way to solve the problems that the minister can’t solve.

I share the view of my colleagues on the other side. In my opinion, this is premature. We need to think more seriously about handgun crime and think seriously as a country about what we’re willing to tolerate. However, the minister didn’t convince me that he was taking this approach seriously.

[English]

The Chair: If no other senators wish to speak, we’ll go to the question. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: Would you like a roll call?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McPhedran?

Senator McPhedran: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: Abstention.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: No.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 2; nays, 6; abstentions, 3.

The Chair: The motion is defeated.

Senator Griffin: I have a proposed amendment to clause 16 on page 11.

The Chair: Senator Griffin, could I ask you to wait while we distribute?

Senator Griffin: Right. It is GR6.

The Chair: Senators, while we review the amendment, I am advising you that Senator Busson will replace Senator McPhedran for the balance of the meeting.

Senator Griffin, I believe everyone has the amendment.

Senator Griffin: I move:

That Bill C-71 be amended in clause 16, on page 11, by replacing line 28 with the following:

non-restricted firearm means any firearm that the Commissioner of Firearms may, by order, designate as a non-restricted firearm, as well as any firearm that is neither a”.

The rationale here is that this would give the Commissioner of Firearms the legal authority to downgrade a restricted or prohibited firearm, which is now not an available remedy. It would resolve the issue of the non-firing historic flintlock firearms being classified as restricted weaponry. We had two witnesses that dealt with historical movie props and weapons that clearly were not meant to be fired now, but because they originally were in a classified category of being restricted or even prohibited they weren’t able to be used for those purposes.

Bill C-71, unless amended, provides no legal mechanism for this downgrading. This would be the Commissioner of Firearms, so it’s not a political agent. Cabinet no longer has the authority to do that. I believe the commissioner certainly should be able to have the authority to do that.

Senator Plett: I find myself in the same position as I did with Senator Griffin’s earlier amendment where this improves something but not to the extent that I believe it should be improved. I really believe, if we couldn’t have anything else, that this would be good. In all likelihood the commissioner is a member of the RCMP. They are already being given the authority to do this work. For that reason, I am not sure that solves any problem.

Having said that, I will support the amendment because the wording, for sure, is better than what we have now; but at the end I really think that this clause needs to be rewritten for all of the reasons I stated earlier.

Senator Pratte: I will oppose this amendment. First, one of the reasons I oppose the Governor-in-Council having this authority to change the classification of firearms is that the power it gives the Governor-in-Council is the power to ignore the definitions in the Criminal Code. This does the same for the commissioner. The commissioner would have the authority to ignore the firearms classification as defined in the Criminal Code. I am very uneasy about that. If Parliament wants to change the classification and criteria for firearms in the Criminal Code, they should amend the Criminal Code, but not give the commissioner or anyone else the authority to ignore what’s in the Criminal Code.

Second, it creates a strange situation. The Commissioner of Firearms presently is the Commissioner of the RCMP. The commissioner would, in effect, oppose the decision made by her own experts about the classification of a firearm, and I find that a bit strange.

For these reasons, I will oppose the amendment.

The Chair: Anyone else? Senator Griffin, did you want to respond?

Senator Griffin: Yes, in this case the commissioner would, of course, listen to advice given by her staff, but the point is right now the Commissioner of Firearms would not have the ability to downgrade a restricted or prohibited firearm, and this legislation otherwise doesn’t enable that.

I am saying we heard from some witnesses that this is indeed a desirable action to enable. I am trying to find a mechanism that will enable it to happen, and the Commissioner of Firearms is the logical person to do that.

Senator Pratte: May I ask a question of the officials. I said I felt uneasy about the Commissioner of Firearms contradicting her own experts on the classifications of firearms. Would you, if you can, tell us if there is something that poses a difficulty in the way that amendment is drafted?

Mr. Koops: I think, senator, not with the drafting per se. The government has proposed that no person or body has the authority to downgrade the classification of a firearm and, as you said, thereby overrule the definitions in the Criminal Code, be that the Governor-in-Council or the Commissioner of the RCMP.

The Chair: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Busson?

Senator Busson: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 7; nays, 5.

The Chair: The motion in amendment is carried.

Shall clause 16, as amended, carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

[Translation]

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Busson?

Senator Busson: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: Abstain.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: No.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 5; nays, 5; abstentions, 1.

[English]

The Chair: The clause is defeated.

Shall clause 17 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 18 carry?

Senator Plett: As a result of our defeating clause 16, and I am sure the officials might weigh in on this, that would automatically defeat clauses 18 to 21.

The Chair: I will give the officials a few minutes to consider that.

Ms. Clarke, do you have an answer for us?

Paula Clarke, Counsel, Department of Justice Canada: The answer to this question would depend upon what decision is made with respect to clause 18. This is because the deeming provision, or what we call the ability of the Governor-in-Council to reclassify a firearm to be in a more restrictive category, works with two sections of the Criminal Code.

The first is the definition of non-restricted firearm, which gives the ability to prescribe. It defines a non-restricted firearm as any firearm that is prescribed to be non-restricted, which works in tandem with section 117.15, which is the general regulation-making provision in the Criminal Code. To strike down one aspect of it but to retain the second aspect would be inconsistent.

In order for me to answer questions about the subsequent clauses 18 to 21, I would need full information about how you intend to treat the entire deeming provision.

If you did clause 118 first, then I could answer how it would affect the other clauses related to the deeming provision.

The Chair: Then we’ll move to: Shall clause 18 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: All right, we’ll do a roll call.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Busson?

Senator Busson: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: No.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 6; nays, 6.

The Chair: The clause is defeated.

Ms. Clarke: With respect to clauses 19 to 21, they would be of no effect. Section 19 simply proposes to amend the name of the regulations to delete non-restricted, so that would no longer be necessary. Sections 3.1 and 3.2 list the firearms that are deemed to be non-restricted. Sections 3.1 and 3.2 define which firearms would be restricted and which firearms would be treated as non-restricted based on barrel length. Clause 21 is the schedule that sets out the firearms that are deemed to be non-restricted.

There’s no need to enact these provisions. They would be of no effect, given the fact that the deeming provision would still exist.

The Chair: Senators, shall clauses 19, 20 and 21 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Chair: I am informed, since clause 18 is defeated, that we should return to clause 1 and have it defeated as allowed under rule 10(5). Is that agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: We’ll move to clause 22.

Senator Plett: Chair, if I could, did we vote on clause 17? I think we jumped over it because of the issue.

The Chair: My note says, “on division.”

Senator Plett: Okay, I apologize.

The Chair: Are we all caught up, then? We’re at clause 22.

Senator Plett: Yes.

The Chair: Shall clause 22 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 23 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 24 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 25 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 26 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 27 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 28 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 29 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 30 carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall the title carry?

Senator Plett: On division.

The Chair: Shall the bill, as amended, carry?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: Does the committee wish to consider appending observations to the report?

Senator Pratte: I don’t know if it’s in the form of an observation. Frankly, I don’t know what is possible or not, but I would like at least to put on the record and in the report, if possible, that some of the members of the committee are extremely concerned with the amendments that have been adopted. In fact, these amendments gut the bill that was part of the government’s election platform.

I personally believe that these amendments increase the threat of the risks to public safety. I am thinking, for instance, of the changes in background checks, ATT regime and the power of the Governor-in-Council to override the Criminal Code provisions on the classification of firearms.

Senator Plett: I don’t think that’s an observation. We’re a political forum here, colleagues. We will all vote our own conscience on every bill. What Senator Pratte is suggesting with that observation, that unless we vote the way the government wants us to vote, we need to put an observation forward.

I put an observation forward when this government got elected that I will try to make sure I uphold the values, principles and policies of what I believe and, for a large part, what my party believes. We have clearly today seen a bit of bipartisanship, if you will, with senators from different groups all collaborating on some bills and voting together on some bills.

I think there has been a complete, friendly way of senators who are supportive of the government’s agenda having voted in some instances for amendment. There have been people opposed to the government’s agenda who have, in some cases, supported what the government has been doing here. For us to start an observation saying some people didn’t agree with the government, I think that’s beyond the pale of an observation.

Observations are for when we, as a group, agree that we would like the government to consider one thing, but to observe I think they can look at the transcript if they want to see that we weren’t all in agreement. When this report gets put in front of the Senate as a whole, Senator Pratte has the opportunity either to amend or vote against the report.

I don’t think anything has been determined here. At the end of the day the government of the day will decide whether or not they accept any amendments.

We have done our job here. Let’s not sully the waters by saying, “And certain senators didn’t agree with the government, so let’s report them.”

Senator Gold: I am not sure I agree with Senator Plett. I would like to go on the record as saying that I think the cumulative effect of these amendments is to so strip Bill C-71 of its stated impact that I am hard pressed to see much that is left beyond the status quo as existed before the introduction of Bill C-71.

I am quite unhappy, not with the process. I think the process was democratic and according to the rules, but the result is to strip Bill C-71, for all intents and purposes, of its major content. As such, I think it’s regrettable that this is a result. I just wanted the record to reflect that.

Senator Richards: I will just say why I was concerned about this bill. I thought it was speculative, elitist and dictatorial. That’s why I voted the way I did, and I voted my conscience. That’s all I can say.

Senator Griffin: I had another topic.

Senator Pratte: I certainly didn’t want to question the process. I agree with the process totally. It was a democratic process. I certainly have nothing against people being against the government’s measures or initiatives. I agree that this is all legitimate.

I remember that in the case of Bill C-45, the cannabis bill, the report included minority observations. That’s what I was thinking about. I don’t know what it requires. I don’t know what the rules are, frankly.

First of all, I wanted to put it on the record and if it’s possible to include minority observations, then I would do that.

The Chair: Senator Pratte or Plett, pardon me.

Senator Plett: We confuse ourselves sometimes.

Again, let me just say that nobody came into this meeting today without their eyes wide open, knowing that there would be amendments and there would be issues. Everything can be put on the record. Certainly there isn’t anything wrong with what Senator Gold just did in saying that he wanted to put something this on the record.

Don’t get me wrong, Senator Gold, when I make this comment. Again, this is not over. This will go to the chamber. Senator Pratte, you will have your opportunity and I will have mine when we speak as sponsor and critic of the bill both at report stage and at third reading. I am sure you will find opportunity to say what’s in your heart, and I will do the same.

Aside from the fact that nobody got everything they wanted here today, I think it was done in a collegial, collaborative way. I want to say it is one thing for reports to reflect what happened here today, and perhaps there is an observation about something in the legislation. I know Senator Griffin and I talked earlier today about possible observations to the bill. I won’t oppose those, but if the observation is reflective of anybody killing the government’s agenda, that really muddies what we did here today.

I would suggest we leave here, heads held high. I am sure you will have some media questions and you will have your comments to make, and I might have mine. Let’s leave it for that. I would simply oppose any type of minority report that deals with the subject matter of how things were done here today. We didn’t kill any government bill here today. We, as a committee, amended some legislation. Senator Pratte — I am sorry, I should be talking through the chair — and in fact all ISG senators have been telling us over and over again that our job is to amend legislation, our job is to amend legislation, our job is to amend legislation. Does that only mean if the ISG group agrees to the amendments? That means any legislation is open to amendments. That’s what we did here today.

Of course you’re running the meeting, chair, but I think we should move on from that and accept the fact of what happened here today.

The Chair: I am seeing agreement on that issue or “an agree to disagree.”

Senator Pratte: Agree to disagree.

Senator Griffin: My observation is a fairly simple one. In order to ensure that businesses do not experience economic harm when firearms within their inventory are classified as prohibited, the Government of Canada should consider providing compensation for businesses that lost revenue as a consequence of the provisions enacted by this act. It’s asking the government to consider it.

The Chair: Comments?

Senator Plett: I have no issue with that observation. I think some of it has been dealt with in the amendments we made. However, I certainly agree with Senator Griffin. Having the word “consider” in there is not dictating which, of course, we can’t do when it comes to money anyway. I would be happy to support that observation.

The Chair: Are there any other comments?

Senator Pratte: Unfortunately, I disagree again. Prohibition of different models of firearms has often happened in the past, and the government has never compensated businesses or owners. They’ve chosen to work through the grandfathering process. Considering would open the door to something that has not been done before, and therefore I disagree.

The Chair: Are there other thoughts? Do we wish to vote on it then?

Senator Plett: Absolutely.

The Chair: To be clear, to make sure I am clear, we’re voting on Senator Griffin’s observation on its own, which was read into the record.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boniface?

Senator Boniface: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Gold?

Senator Gold: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Griffin?

Senator Griffin: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Jaffer?

Senator Jaffer: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator McIntyre?

Senator McIntyre: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Busson?

Senator Busson: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: SThe Honourable enator Plett?

Senator Plett: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Pratte?

Senator Pratte: No.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Richards?

Senator Richards: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: The Honourable Senator Wells?

Senator Wells: Yes.

Mr. Palmer: Yeas, 7; nays, 5.

The Chair: The observation will therefore be amended to the report.

Is it agreed that I report this bill, as amended, with observations to the Senate?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Jaffer: Chair, may I just recognize the way you were well prepared for this meeting. You have saved us a lot of time. Thank you so much.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Jaffer: On our behalf, I also want to thank the clerk. This has been a very tough few weeks for him and for you, Madam Chair. I know I speak for everybody here when I thank you for all the work you’ve done.

The Chair: Thank you.

(The committee adjourned.)